Female Episcopal chaplain deploys to Afghanistan


Episcopal chaplain is part on an Iowa National Guard deployment of more than 2,800 soldiers heading to the war in Afghanistan.

Iowa Chaplain Martha Kester said she hopes to give the soldiers religious direction during the deployment….Kester is the first female Iowa chaplain to serve.

The first lieutenant decided to wear the uniform four years ago to increase her outreach, not to be first female chaplain in the Iowa Army National Guard.

“If there is a glass ceiling I’ll get as far as I can get. It’s not about rank advancement, it’s about serving the soldiers in the best way I can do it,” said Kester.

The Des Moines Episcopal priest will be heading into a war zone with mostly men, but she said she plans on being accepted. “I’m a safe place to vent. I grew up outside New York. I have three brothers, nothing offends me I’ve probably heard it or said it before,” said Kester.

After the yearlong deployment, Kester plans to return to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Des Moines.

WCCI has a video featuring Kester that we wish we could embed; follow this link to view it.

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There are two other Episcopal clergywomen deployed as chaplains in Afghanistan! Chaplain Sarah Shirley and Chaplain Kristina Coppinger are both in Bagram. We have a couple of other chaplains in other parts of that country as well.

Please take a look at the Episcopal Federal Chaplaincies page on Facebook for photos.

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